Activision Wins License to Shill James Bond Video Games

Activision Inc. (ATVI) has won the rights from film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to make "James Bond" video games, taking over the popular franchise from rival Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS).

Activision, the No. 2 U.S. games publisher behind Electronic Arts, said on Wednesday the deal gives it worldwide rights to make PC, handheld and console games based on the superspy, whose whiz-bang gadgetry and adventures in exotic locales have made him highly coveted as a video game property.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but Activision said it will have exclusive rights to 007 games for seven years starting from September 2007.

Activision, which like MGM is located in Santa Monica, California, said it had "non-exclusive" rights to make Bond games until then.

"The James Bond franchise creates tremendous global expansion opportunities for Activision as it is one of the few video game licenses that appeals equally to domestic and international consumers," Mike Griffith, head of Activision's publishing arm, said in a statement.

The Bond franchise has seen mixed success in the gaming world, with "Goldeneye" for the Nintendo 64 in 1997 console widely considered one of the best games of all time.

Electronic Arts's last Bond game, "From Russia With Love," based on the 1963 movie starring Sean Connery, garnered lukewarm reviews.

Warren Jenson, chief financial officer of Electronic Arts, speaking on a conference call after the company's quarterly earnings, said it had agreed to end the licensing deal because it no longer fit its corporate strategy.

No video game publisher has officially announced a title based on the next Bond movie, a remake of 1967's "Casino Royale" due out in November from MGM and Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SNE). Sony also owns a stake in MGM.